An Evening of Reading

Jan 14, 2011 | 2 comments

So Many Choices!

     “Come for dessert and decaf coffee,” our neighbor Diane said, “and bring something to read aloud.  Something short.”
     And so we did.  And so did an assortment of near and far neighbors.  There were twelve of us in all – four men and eight women, three couples and six singles.  Although there were no ‘strangers’ among us (there seldom are in our small community), the people ran the gamut from good friends to mere acquaintances.  Our reading selections, too, covered a wide range.
     Most people made their choices from among their favorite poetry.  There were comfortable oldies like “The Naming of Cats” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” both by T.S. Eliot.   And there was a love poem written by W.S. Merwin, the Hawaii-based poet who is a two-time Pulitzer prize winner and our nation’s current poet laureate.
     Several short excerpts from Christmas in Maine by Robert P. Tristram Coffin left me hungry for more.  The book is now out of print and I’m hoping neighbor Susan will lend it to me for a bit.  It’s just the sort of nostalgic stuff I enjoy.
     Nyel and I chose a short, humorous piece about loggers and their language.  It written by Barry Lopez and our performance group, Shoalwater Storytellers, often used it as an encore.  Reading it last night led to questions about the Storytellers, the answer to which was “We’re retired!”
     Diane read last.  She had prepared several selections, the first of which was one of Mercer Mayer’s “Frog” books.  They are wordless picture books for young children – Diane’s favorites, she told me once – and, as she turned the pages saying nothing and giggling now and then,  people gradually ‘got it.’
     Two kinds of pie, pecan and lemon cream, and plans for “the next time” capped the evening.  As Nyel and I drove the short distance home through the cold, rainy night I was still wrapped in the warm glow of the readings.  I loved the selections; I loved it that a couple of the men grew teary as they read; I loved it that Diane thought up this Evening of Reading.  And I wondered what, out of all my favorites, I would choose for our February get-together.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    How lovely, Sydney! I’m glad it went so well. Ana tried to get our female relatives and friends to bring things to read aloud at tea and it was somewhat thin for lack of attendance. I’ve wondered if the literature requirement accounted for that. You are fortunate to live in a community willing to entertain themselves in such a homey way!


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